MORE than 70 walkers joined author Colin Speakman at the weekend on a six mile walk on the Dales Way, along the banks of the River Wharfe, from the start of the long distance route in Ilkley to Bolton Abbey.

The walk was to celebrate the original public walk organised more than 50 years ago to inaugurate the 81 mile long Dales Way, what is now one of England’s most popular long distance walks, connecting the towns and cities of West Yorkshire with the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District.

Mr Speakman, now the Chairman of the Dales Way Association, and a Vice President of both the West Riding Ramblers and the Yorkshire Dales Society, said it was “his privilege to have been able to lead the original walk on March 23 1969 and now the Golden Jubilee Walk just over 50 years later”.

A special feature of Saturday’s celebrations was a courtesy bus service using two of the exact type of West Yorkshire Road Car buses that carried walkers to and from the Dales in 1969.

Provided by the Keighley Bus Museum, in conjunction with the Friends of DalesBus, the superbly preserved vehicles took walkers of 2019 on a time journey using the identical form of transport used by walkers 50 years ago.

On their return to Ilkley, walkers joined Sir Rodney Brooke, President of the Ilkley Manor House Trust and Ilkley and Keighley MP John Grogan, as Mr Grogan officially opened a special exhibition dedicated to the story of the Dales Way, running at the Manor House throughout August. Mr Grogan paid tribute to the vision and energy of both Mr Speakman and Tom Wilcock of the West Riding Ramblers Association who had conceived and developed the route in 1969 as a way of encouraging access to the spectacular countryside of the Yorkshire Dales so close to the cities such as Leeds and Bradford.

The Dales Way 50th exhibition at the Ilkley Manor House runs every Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 4pm until September 1, admission free. Supported by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Sustainable Development Fund, the Dales Way Association has also published a souvenir booklet. Details from the website:, or from: